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Marijn "i before j" van Putten
Great conversation between and Asma Hilali about quranic manuscripts but to me one detail remained a bit vague, it is addressed in the title: "Did the Quran exist early as a book?" The answer to this should, unequivocally be: Yes. Yes it did. Thread 🧵
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
One of the questions posed in the conversation is "where is Uthman's codex?" and "where are the regional codices?" We might actually have them, but the fragments we have simply do not come with labels. But even if we didn't this does not mean they aren't CERTAINLY a reality.
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
We do not own the autograph of Sībawayh's al-Kitāb, are we to assume al-Kitāb never existed and Sībawayh did not write it? Of course not. And this is true for the vast majority of the Classical Arabic literature (or any literature in manuscript traditions).
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
You do need to own a physical copy of the ancestral manuscript to prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt that there was an ancestral manuscript from which all manuscripts descend. 2 almost identical manuscripts, reproducing various orthographic idiosyncrasies must share an ancestor.
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
All Quranic manuscripts (with the exception of the Sanaa Palimpsest) are so similar that they can only have arrived through careful copying upon copying from a single ancestral text, e.g. these 2 pages of Or. 2165 and the Birmingham fragment are identical save 1 letter!
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
The field of text criticism is concerned with reconstructing such shared ancestral texts. It's in many ways similar to how we can trace DNA. Even if you and your cousin never knew your grandparents, and didn't even know you're related the similarities in genome would give it away
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
Even if you would no longer have access to your grandparants' DNA, it would of course be absurd to suggest that just because they DNA is not extant, the grandparents did not exist at all. Manuscript reproduction is more like asexual reproduction, but the point remains the same.
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
Through textual criticism, we can prove there was a common ancestor, we can prove that there were (at least) four original copies made, distributed to Medina, Basra, Kufa and Syria. Through C14-dating and other methods we can prove this happened very early on (around 650 CE).
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
There are manuscripts with much greater dissimilarities between different text types than the Quran which are universally accepted to have a common ancestor. The concept of a 'lost' but nevertheless certain archetype is also clearly attested in the stemmatics of the Hebrew Bible
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
Comparing the Quran to the Hebrew Bible, it would not be fair to equate the Uthmanic archetype to any of these (lost) nodes. The differences between the different Quranic manuscripts are smaller than even the Masoretic Text (Mt), whose existence of an archetype is simply accepted
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
While we still lack a true critical edition of the Uthmanic text type, we should not overstate its necessity either. The modern print Qurans, which base themselves on medieval works on Quranic orthography, actually come very close to reproducing the ancestral rasm.
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
It is possible to highlight several hundred orthographic variants which the modern print qurans get 'wrong', but most of the spellings it actually gets right. It's only a bit too liberal with writing the alif, if you would remove those you'd have something close to the Kufan copy
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
To get a sense of the impressive and careful copying from the archetype, check out my article "The Grace of God", which looks at one of these many orthographic idiosyncrasies that are carefully and consistently reproduced across early manuscripts.
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
If you enjoyed this thread, and you want to support me, right now it is extra appreciated. My contract at Leiden has ended, and I'm currently between jobs so extra support is greatly appreciated! My Ko-Fi: My Patreon:
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Marijn "i before j" van Putten Sep 28
Replying to @PhDniX
Awkward typo in this tweet, I hope you were not all super confused. This should read: You *don't need... etc.
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